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CONNUBIAL AFFECTION. 123
family, had undermined his health. Grief had made sad Chap. inroads upon a delicate constitution. It was his good fortune XH• to be the husband of one of the finest, and most amiable women in Trance, and the father of an affectionate, beautiful, and accomplished family. His circumstances had been once splendid; they were then respectable, but he had passed through events which threatened his all. Those sufferings which generous souls sustain for the sake of others, not for themselves, had alone destroyed the resemblance which once existed between this excellent man and his admirable portrait, which, at the further end of the room, presented the healthy glow, and fine proportions of manly beauty. He expressed to me, in the most charming manner, his regret, that indisposition confined him to the country, and prevented him from receiving me in Paris suitable to his own wishes, and to those claims which I had upon his attentions, by the letters of introduction which I had brought to him; but added, that he should furnish me with letters to some of his friends in town, who would be happy to supply his absence, and to make Paris agreeable to me. Monsieur O was as good as his word.
This amiable gentleman possessed a countenance of great genius, and a mind full of intelligence.
After an elegant supper, when his lady and daughters had withdrawn, he entered into a very interesting account of his country, of the revolution, and of his flight for the salvation of himself and family. A tolerably good opinion may bo formed of the devastation which have been produced by the late republican government, by the following circumstance;
R 2 which
124> CONNUBIAL AFFECTION.
Chap., which Monsieur O assured me, on the word of a man of
XI1' honour, was correct.
His section in Paris was composed of one thousand three hundred persons, of rank and fortune, of whom only five had escaped the slaughter of the guillotine!!
Madame O and her charming family, seemed wholly to
occupy his heart and affections.
He spoke of his lady with all the tender eutogium of a young lover. Their union was entirely from attachment, and
had been resisted on the part of Madame O , when he first
addressed her, only because her fortune was humble, . compared with his. He informed me, and I must not suppress the story, that in the time of blood, this amiable woman, who is remarkable for the delicacy of her mind, and for tloe beauty and majesty of her person, displayed a degree of coolness and courage, which, in the field of battle, would have covered the hero with laurels. One evening, a short period before the family left France, a party of those murderers, who were sent for by Robespierre, from the frontiers which divide France from Italy, and who were by that archfiend employed in all the butcheries, and massacres of Paris, entered
the peaceful village of la Rcine, in search of Monsieur O .
His lady saw them advancing, and anticipating their errand, had just time to give her husband intelligence of their approach, who left his chateau by a back door, and secreted himself in
ihe house of a neighbour. Madame O , with perfect
composure, went out to meet them, and received them in the
most gracious manner. They sternly demanded Mons. O ,
she FEMALE BRAVERY. 125
she informed them that he had left the country, and after Chap. engaging them in conversation, she conducted them into her XI1' drawing room, and regaled them with her best wines, and made her servants attend upon them with unusual deference and ceremony. Their appearance was altogether horrible, they wore leather aprons, which were sprinkled all over with blood, they had large horse pistols in their belts, and a dirk and sabre by their sides. Their looks were full of ferocity, and they spoke a harsh dissonant patois language. Over their cups, they talked about tlie bloody business of that day's occupation, in the course of which they drew out their dirks, and wiped from their handles, clots of blood and hair. Madame
O sat with them, undismayed by their frightful deportment.
After drinking several bottles of Champaign and Burgundy, these savages began to grow good humoured, and seemed to be completely fascinated by the amiable and unembarrassed, and hospitable behaviour of their fair landlady. After carousing till midnight, they pressed her to retire, observing that they had been received so handsomely that they were convinced Monsieur O had been misrepresented> and was
no enemy to the good cause; they added that they found the wines excellent, and after drinking two or three bottles more, diey would leave the house, without causing her any reason to regret their admission.
Madame O , with all the appearance of perfect tranquillity and confidence in their promises, wished her unwel-' come; visitors a good night, and after visiting her children in their rooms, she threw herself upon her bed, with a loaded
126 FEMALE BRAVERY.
Chap. pistol in each hand, and, overwhelmed with suppressed agony xn' and agitation, she soundly slept till she was called hy her servants, two hours after these wretches had left the house. He related also another instance of that resolution which is not unfrequcntly exhibited by women, when those generous affections, for which they are so justly celebrated, are menaced with danger. About the same period, two of the children
of Monsieur O were in Paris at school: A rumour had
reached him, that the teachers of the seminary in which they were placed, had offended the government, and were likely to be butchered, and that the carnage which was expected to take place, might, in its undistinguishing fury, extend to the pupils. Immediately upon receiving this intelligence, Monsieur O ordered his carriage, for the purpose
of proceeding to town. Madame O—— implored of him to permit her to accompany him; in vain did he beseech her to remain at home; the picture of danger which he painted, only rendered her more determined. She mounted the carriage, and seated herself by the side of her husband. When they reached Paris, they were stopped in the middle of the street St. Ilonore, by the massacre of a large number of prisoners who had just been taken out of a church which had been converted into a prison. Their cars were pierced with screams. Many of the miserable victims were cut down, clinging to the windows of their carriage. During the dreadful delays. which they suffered in passing through this street,
Madame O discovered no sensations of alarm, but sted
fastly fixed her eyes upon the back of the coach box, to avoid,
as FEMALE BRAVERY. 127
as much as possible, observing the butcheries which were per- Chap. petrating on each side of her. XI1'
Had she been observed to close her eyes, or to set back in the carriage, she would have excited a suspicion, which, no doubt, would have proved fatal to her. At length she reached the school which contained her children, where she found the rumour which they had received was without foundation; she calmly conducted them to the carriage, and during their gloomy return through Paris, betrayed no emotions; but as soon as they had passed the barrier, and were once more in safety upon the road to their peaceful chateau, the exulting mother, in an agony of joy, pressed her children to her bosom, and in a state of mind wrought up to frenzy, arrived at her own house, in convulsions of ghastly laughter. Monsieur O never spoke of this charming woman, without exhibiting the strongest emotions of regard. He said, that in sickness she suffered no one to attend upon him but herself, that in all his afflictions she had supported him, and that she mitigated the deep melancholy which the sufferings of his country, and his own privations, had fixed upon him, by the well-timed sallies of her elegant fancy, or by the charms of her various accom pi ish me n ts..
I found myself a gainer in the article of delight, by leaving the gayest metropolis that Europe can present to a traveller, for the sake of visiting such a family.